Conventional wisdom in baseball is that first basemen need to be able to hit for power. For David MacKinnon, a native of Easton, Mass. who made his major league debut for the L.A. Angels on June 18, a fair question is exactly when that power capability needs to be in evidence.
MacKinnon, as both a college player at the University of Hartford and for the majority of his minor league experience, demonstrated a consistent high aptitude at the plate. His batting average over his four years at Hartford was .359, with a gaudy OBP of .471 his junior year. The OBP demonstrates another of MacKinnon’s talents: the ability to draw walks. And yet despite his impressive numbers, MacKinnon was overlooked by scouts because of his low number of homers (5 total) in college.
The summer of 2015 should have been pivotal for MacKinnon. After that sensational junior season at Hartford, he caught on as a temporary player for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League. He played well enough to earn a contract for the full season and even made the CCBL All-Star team that summer, and yet scouts collectively remained ambivalent.
“I think my name was out there but scouts at the time were concerned that I didn’t hit for power,” MacKinnon said. “To me, at the professional level, your job should be to get good hitters first and then develop them to hit for power from there. Scouts are always knocking you. They’re like, ‘You shouldn’t be drafted here at this spot because you don’t have the power.’ If you have a long track record of putting together good consistent at-bats in college, you’re probably going to continue to do that at the professional level.”